Director – Paul Andrew Williams
Writer – Paul Andrew Williams
Starring – Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, Jennifer Ellison, Steve O’Donnell, Dave Legeno
It’s not particularly unfair to draw comparisons between The Cottage and Edgar Wright’s much loved Shaun of the Dead from a few years ago. This aims for the same thing; to both pay homage and even make a fool of the horror genre but at the same time be a solid entry into the genre on its own. But where the aforementioned Shaun of the Dead did this very successfully, The Cottage fails on pretty much every attempted level.
After two brothers kidnap the daughter of a local mobster and demand money to let her go, everything turns into a living nightmare when they cross paths with a psychopathic farmer.
It was very fitting that The League of Gentlemen star Reece Shearsmith should to do a film of this nature, as it’s got the same ingredients of that wonderfully creepy show had. It’s a shame, then, that Shearsmith didn’t bring his, and the rest of the Gentlemen’s, writing talent along with him to The Cottage as writer/director Paul Andrew Williams doesn’t really pull off what was intended here. The film starts off as a crime film about two brothers who kidnap a mobster’s daughter for money and on that front it doesn’t really work. It’s never really believable, despite decent performances from Shearsmith and Andy Serkis (who we see here in his rare human form), that these two men are actually brothers or that they would be in such a situation. Ellison plays the foul mouthed hostage, and I personally found her character, and more specifically her choice of words, shall we say, to be wholly unnecessary. We never really care about these characters, to be completely honest, and the audience is eagerly anticipating the inevitability of the plan going nastily wrong rather than rooting for anyone.
There are some decent dozes of humour here and there throughout but for the most part the jokes fall disappointingly flat leaving the air very uncomfortable before something else happens on-screen. It’s not a good thing to put forth an incentive to audiences before the film is released that it’s a full on comedy/horror when it doesn’t actually become that until almost an hour in. It takes it’s time with a kidnapping plot that never really strings together properly and instead just feels like filler until we get to the ultimate point of the film.
When we finally do get to the third act of gruesome comedy/horror it never really lives up to its promise. There are a few very nasty scenes in the film that should have fans of the over-the-top horror genre satisfied, including a scene where a character gets their spine pull out in between the farm sheds. It’s scene likes this that will make the film worth while for gore hounds but sine I am not part of that film crowd I can’t say I found just a few of these scenes enough for me to enjoy the film as a whole.
What makes it even worse is not only does the horror element not live up to expectations it also seems like it comes out of nowhere. Perhaps that was the point but I just can’t see it being that way. Instead I think its misjudged timing on the director’s part, leaving the horror element of the film seeming as if it was just thrown in half way through shooting instead of being planned from the beginning. Similarly there are a few plot threads and side characters that seem tacked onto the film instead of feeling integrally important to the story. Specifically it’s the mob boss element of the story that springs to mind. We see hints of it towards the beginning but it’s never tackled or even referred back to as the film progresses leaving that part utterly pointless to begin with.
It’s not a complete shambles, as admittedly the film is enjoyable occasionally with a few over-the-top fun and nasty kills and most of the performances are enjoyable enough. It’s just not even close to what it could have been, instead The Cottage is a huge disappointment.